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What Scorpions Have To Teach Aircraft Designers

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the taking-the-sting-out dept.

Transportation 127

First time accepted submitter elloGov writes "The north African desert scorpion, Androctonus australis, is a hardy creature. Most animals that live in deserts dig burrows to protect themselves from the sand-laden wind. Not Androctonus; it usually toughs things out at the surface. Yet when the sand whips by at speeds that would strip paint away from steel, the scorpion is able to scurry off without apparent damage thanks to the unique structure of its carapace. Dr Han Zhiwu of Jilin University and colleagues have found that surface irregularities based on the scorpion's exoskeleton could substantially minimize atmospheric dust damage to aircraft."

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127 comments

Scorpions (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38976815)

They teach aircraft designers that "Rock You Like A Hurricane" fits perfectly at air shows.

Re:Scorpions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977191)

Plus, the Scorpions are really good with the Winds of Change. Really, we should have suspected that they've got special wind issues.

I will always love you. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977721)

Well, Lucy, I guess that you received my email with the link to this. Sorry for using Slashdot, but I knew that this wouldn't get deleted.

Please don't feel sad that I decided to kill myself. It's not your fault, and I hope that you don't take it personally. I know that you are not going to have any issues at all finding anyone else. Hopefully you can find someone superior to me in every way. I just can't take the suffering anymore. I am sorry that you are suffering now. I understand that I am a coward for not sticking it out and hoping that things will get better, but I have completely lost faith. My suffering is never going to end, only get worse.

To Mel, Fuck you! I swear to god you are a greedy fuck. Why can I not get a raise for 4 years, but you get a company car, an extra week vacation, and quarterly bonuses? I live with my fucking parents now because my rent went up, but what a fucking suprise, all of my wages got gobbled up by health care and the rising cost of gas, food, electricity and medicine. Oh I know why you get all of that.. You sit in an office and fucking jack off all day, while your entire team gets fucked in the ass.. A penny saved on us is $1000 earned to you, right?

To Danielle... You fucking cunt bitch. You move out and take my cash stash, my tv and my computer. I could live with that. WHY THE FUCK DID YOU HAVE TO TAKE MY CAT?? She's my FUCKING CAT!!! I GOT HER BEFORE YOU EVEN SHOWED UP YOU FUCKING CUNT!

To everyone else at Dean's.. Just get the fuck out. I don't care how you do it. Get another job, kill youself binge drinking, I don't care.

Death is quick and painless when done properly. Living is a constant struggle.

I love you, Lucy.

Re:I will always love you. (-1, Offtopic)

CrankinOut (629561) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978427)

Dude!

Get some counseling!

Life isn't neat and tidy, and sometimes it's downright challenging. But there is usually a way to make things work.

Giving up is only cheating yourself out of you future opportunities.

Suffering is an attitude. You can choose not to suffer by changing your focus from what makes you unhappy to what makes you happy. Whatever you focus on seems to be larger.

And about the cat, remember, Dogs have masters, cats have staff.

Good luck.

Re:I will always love you. (-1, Offtopic)

petman (619526) | more than 2 years ago | (#38979379)

Dude, if you haven't yet killed yourself, here's some advice - rather than kill yourself, have you considered killing other people? I'm pretty sure it's more fun.

Re:Scorpions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38979557)

Think outside the box too... Future moon/martian rovers. The moon's dust is apparently abrasive as sandpaper, and no doubt Mars dust devils are similar.

And forget just aircraft, just ride a bike in the wind and rain... downhill... and you'll know just how painful it is. Any advancement in dust/impact damage can also be applied to cars.

That would be cool... (0)

Gavin Scott (15916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38976839)

...if scorpions could fly.

G.

Re:That would be cool... (5, Funny)

fightinfilipino (1449273) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977251)

no, no it would NOT be cool if scorpions could fly D:

Re:That would be cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977445)

According to Revelation 9 there will one day be something like flying scorpions.

Re:That would be cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977551)

Scary thing is with billions of different species on this planet THERE IS LIKELY ALREADY A FLYING SCORPION. Ok I just scared myself into never going out again.

Re:That would be cool... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977633)

[snip] Ok I just scared myself into never going out again.

And if you are anything like me, that did not really change your life radically

Re:That would be cool... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980561)

Frigging prophets can't tell the difference between helicopters and locusts with scorpion tails.. ;)

Re:That would be cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38979067)

I think they are called hornets, or wasps.

Re:That would be cool... (5, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38979731)

...if scorpions could fly.

G.

Exactly. How exactly does the scorpion using bumps on their skin to be less aerodynamic apply to airplanes? Planes already exist with "shark skin" texture to reduce drag, there was even a Mythbusters episode about it. [neatorama.com]

And why does the wikipedia article read exactly like this news story? [wikipedia.org] "Androctonus australis is a hardy North African desert scorpion. Unlike Most other animals that live in deserts, Androctonus does not dig burrows to protect itself from a sandstorm. Instead, it can withstand sandstorms powerful enough to strip paint off steel, without any apparent damage."

Really? That's the best first three sentences for a encyclopedia entry of this creature? Other [wikipedia.org] animals [wikipedia.org] include a detailed description and locations they are found. Strange that the Wikipedia entry was created just 6 days ago. [wikipedia.org]

Methinks slashdot and the economist has been duped by this "first time accepted submitter" elloGov

Re:That would be cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38979767)

timestamps are an harsh mistress

What about drag (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38976841)

A lot of work has been done lately on getting very smooth aerodynamic surfaces, because when you promote laminar flow, you can get very significant decreases in drag. Wouldn't this additional surface roughness mess that up?

Re:What about drag (4, Interesting)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 2 years ago | (#38976911)

I'm not sure but I think, not necessarily. They add dimples to golf balls to increase their flight distance and straighten their flight trajectories specifically to disrupt laminar flow, because over a sphere, turbulent flow actually can work better, if the dimples are just the right size and have just the right irregularity. I don't know for sure if it can be applied to aircraft though; maybe it only works on golf balls. Reference here [avkids.com] .

Re:What about drag (5, Interesting)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#38976937)

Mythbusters did it to a car, and increased gas mileage. This was just using clay. If someone used decent materials, there is likely a huge gain to be had in performance. Of course, the surfaces on a plane NEED to interact with the air, so too much disturbance may not be a good thing.

Re:What about drag (5, Informative)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977607)

There are a few types of drag, but for now let's just consider skin friction drag and pressure drag. For a smooth sphere the size golf ball, pressure drag (or wake drag, caused by the flow separation), is significantly higher than the skin friction because the surface area of the sphere is so small. The dimples introduce turbulence in the boundary layer (increasing skin friction) in order to delay flow separation (significantly reducing wake drag).

For an airplane, however, this situation is reversed. The surface area is enormous, and since the shapes of the wings and the fuselage are such that they delay flow separation as long as possible, the skin friction drag is significantly higher than the wake drag. Introducing dimples will decrease wake drag like a golf ball, but it will increase the skin friction more, causing a net increase in drag.

Re:What about drag (3, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978237)

In this scorpion-skin situation I wouldn't be surprised if the surface drag is reduced.

Two reasons. The first is that the skin reduces erosion by the sand, which implies to me that the sand is kept away from the skin, again suggesting a thicker boundary layer, and that may decrease drag forces.

The second reason: the shark skin effect. A while ago there were these shark skin swimsuits, purportedly increasing the performance of swimmers by reducing surface drag. The shape of a shark (and most fish) are similar to aircraft in that they are highly streamlined and have little wake, making surface drag again dominant. If that works in water, it could also work in air.

Anyway it sounds like a straightforward experiment to test this: create two identical shapes (ball, wing, whatever), one with a polished surface and one with a dimpled/scratched surface, and put both in a wind tunnel. With or without sand.

Re:What about drag (1)

J-1000 (869558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978707)

Mythbusters actually did an episode where they covered a car (much bigger than a golf ball, of course) in golfball-like dimples. Much to their surprise, it increased the gas mileage. Do you know how to explain that? You seem to know what you are talking about.

Re:What about drag (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38979751)

They should do one on Alzheimer's.

Re:What about drag (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38979955)

That's hardly scientific. Maybe the temperature changed, or the wind, or the driver's style, or whatever. One TV experiment does not good science make.

Re:What about drag (0)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980221)

That's hardly scientific. Maybe the temperature changed, or the wind, or the driver's style, or whatever. One TV experiment does not good science make.

Mythbusters is to science as pro-wrestling is to sport.

Re:What about drag (3, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980395)

That's hardly scientific. Maybe the temperature changed, or the wind, or the driver's style, or whatever. One TV experiment does not good science make.

Nope, but before they did the "full scale" experiment, they did a small scale with a model car in a flow tank, with controlled temperature, and "wind" speed/direction. When they added dye to the flow, they saw that the "golf ball" car had a smaller eddy behind the car, which translates to less drag.

I agree that the Mythbusters aren't exactly a definitive scientific resource, but sometimes they actually do their due diligence and it gets cut because it doesn't make for good TV entertainment.

That being said, a divot is not the same as a bump, and the aerodynamics may be different. They do use a shark skin-like covering on some airplanes and boats to reduce drag, though, so there could still be some merit.

Re:What about drag (1)

Mana Mana (16072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38979463)

> causing a net increase in drag

Forgive me, but, kindly qualify that with an "I think so, " would you please. You just don't know it's so empirically; less certitude.

Tangentially, what this article's noted observation reminds me of is rice cooker paddles. That's right, rice ladle spoons. Some time not too long ago, a decade maybe? someone realized that if you added dimples to the plastic injection moldings so as to render a cooker ladle spoon with large protruding dimples on it---sort of like a golf ball's dimples in reverse, convex instead of concave---that magically wet, starchy, goopy rice just would not stick, foul, accrete to your ladle spoon! I though it was the cat's miao! first time I saw it.

I have the feeling that some sort of analog is occurring here vis-a-vis this new observation on A. australis.

Re:What about drag (1)

ToddInSF (765534) | more than 2 years ago | (#38979571)

Except that this is on a microscopic level, the drag you assume is there interacting with that boundary layer of air isn't the same thing as the macro level sized dimples on a golfball. The friction you assume is there is based on a much larger texture; air is not stiff carpeting or velcro, it does not behave like a solid, it behaves more like a fluid. This suggests the reality is the opposite of your many assumptions.

What about it? (0)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978209)

I don't see how dressing up a male plane to look female would help keep it's paint protected from the dust, unless you completely cover it up in pantyhose and make-up.

Re:What about drag (3, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38979919)

Hurm... I have a crazy idea...

Anyone have a VW Golf and a ball peen hammer they're willing to part with?

Re:What about drag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980011)

Mythbusters did it to a car, and increased gas mileage. This was just using clay. If someone used decent materials, there is likely a huge gain to be had in performance. Of course, the surfaces on a plane NEED to interact with the air, so too much disturbance may not be a good thing.

Yes, but not the entire surface. The wing has important interactions, the fuselage is mostly drag (which is why 'flying wings' are considered the most efficient plane design).

Re:What about drag (4, Informative)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977797)

They add dimples to golf balls to increase their flight distance and straighten their flight trajectories specifically to disrupt laminar flow, because over a sphere, turbulent flow actually can work better, if the dimples are just the right size and have just the right irregularity.

National Geographic's "Ultimate Crocodile" has a segment where the surface of a crocodile's skin is found to have similar properties. Seems that a fish's reaction time is more than sufficient to avoid a croc's bite if the fish is alerted. A cast of a crocodile head was used in a tank to measure the way water flows around a crocodile in motion, and it was proven that the bumpy irregularities on the crocodile's skin produce lower water pressure and the crocodile's body and help it maintain stealth.

I can't find the clip, but it's referenced here [natgeoeducationvideo.com] .

Re:What about drag (2)

AB3A (192265) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980093)

Aircraft designers call these Vortex Generators [wikipedia.org] . Their purpose is to disrupt the laminar airflow. This helps the air streams to "stick" to the wing, improving control responsiveness and lowering stall speeds. The difference can be quite noticeable with some airfoil shapes, or almost unmeasurable in others, so one doesn't see them on all aircraft.

But what the article discusses here is NOT a vortex generator or anything of that ilk. It seems to be some sort groove that can mitigate the scratching caused by abrasives in the air stream. It might be interesting to see if such grooves could be integrated with Vortex Generators to improve not only wing performance but also longevity against abrasives, such as a dust or sand storm.

Re:What about drag (0, Troll)

Dinghy (2233934) | more than 2 years ago | (#38976935)

A lot of work has been done lately on getting very smooth aerodynamic surfaces, because when you promote laminar flow, you can get very significant decreases in drag. Wouldn't this additional surface roughness mess that up?

This is pretty much dead on. The reduced erosion is due to air flow disruption, which is definitely going to cause additional drag.

Re:What about drag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977187)

bullshit, air flow disruption doesn't have to cause additional drag, if the object can pull a pocket of air behind it it actually reduces drag

Re:What about drag (4, Interesting)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38976983)

Doesn't seem to affect the flight characteristics of the F117A Nighthawk any... they use reinforced carbon-carbon laminate (which has a rough profile when the resin substrate sets) on its flight surfaces, not just for its physical properties (lightweight, immensely strong and very flexible), but also because that rough surface disperses RADAR and gives a fifty thousand pound strike aircraft the RADAR signature of a sparrow.

Re:What about drag (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977325)

It doesn't? The F-117 can't even fly without a computer constantly making tiny adjustments. I'm not kidding either, it would literally crash if you tried to fly it manually. It's a flying brick.

Re:What about drag (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977461)

When I was young a friend of mine, an aviation mechanic once told me the properties of how a plane flies. He then proceeded to say the armed forces ignore that and use the philosophy "put enough power behind it, anything can fly"

That's one plane looking brick... (5, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977483)

It doesn't? The F-117 can't even fly without a computer constantly making tiny adjustments. I'm not kidding either, it would literally crash if you tried to fly it manually. It's a flying brick.

The Nighthawk was still designed as much as possible like a true airplane; it's only unstable because they couldn't build a more aerodynamic stealthy shape using only flat surfaces (they used flat surfaces because the math for radar deflection depended on computer simulations, and computers couldn't do good enough calculations for curved surfaces in the late '70s).

Calling it a brick is really quite inaccurate. It had an amazingly narrow wingspan, but it's still a plane and it still produced sufficient lift to fly straight on a reasonable power budget. It wasn't stable without computer correction, but that doesn't mean it's a brick. It's not as if they simply strapped enough rockets onto a random shape to get it airborne.

Re:That's one plane looking brick... (3, Interesting)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977801)

Note that instability is actually desirable on planes like the F-117, and has been designed in since at least the F-16. The more stable a fighter jet is, the less maneuverable it will be. But also note that instability (especially spiral mode) can be mitigated by the pilot, depending on the severity and which control surfaces are available.

Re:That's one plane looking brick... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977953)

Except the F-117 is a ground attack plane, not an air to air combat plane. Maneuverability is as much a priority.

You're right in general -- i.e. F-22 or F-35 but for the F-117 it was make it stealthy and damn stability.

Re:What about drag (3, Informative)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978131)

the Nighthawk is designed, like the F-16 Falcon, to be unstable in flight. That is what gives it the important characteristic of being able to turn on a dime hence makes it ideal for close proximity combat flying as well as improved avoidance of eg missiles, cannon shells. Such instability cannot be corrected in real time by a pilot who also has the usual other shit to do in the cockpit like watch where he's going, keep a bead on the RADAR, make flight decisions... it would be far too much of a distraction and besides, if he *could* think that fast he'd be teaching Hawking. That's why instead of a copilot they have a somewhat lighter computer dedicated to maintaining trim.

carbon resin not relevant (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978271)

What surface the carbon laminate dries as is not relevant. They put special radar-absorbing paint on top of the laminate. Also, the surface anomalies of the resin are too unpredictable to work reliably to absorb radar. The rest of the low radar profile is because the chance that an large surface is actually reflecting radar beams back exactly at the radar station is minimal if you make the surfaces as flat as possible, hence the sharp edges and "flat" surfaces of stealth design. The paint is actually not that wear resistant and hard to clean, compared to "regular" airplane paints.

Re:What about drag (3, Funny)

naranek (1727936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978355)

Do you mean African or European sparrow?

Re:What about drag (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978401)

that's not important. A better question would have been, "What have the Romans ever done for us?"

Re:What about drag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38979319)

Foundations of our bumpular, wide cross sectional legal system based on a customary laws from the Northern Italy.

Re:What about drag (3, Informative)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978569)

at supersonic speeds (the nighthawk's max speed is only Mach 0.92, but at that speed the local airspeed over the upper surface of the wing would be transonic), things get a bit iffy. subsonic aerodynamics don't work at transonic and supersonic speeds. you get normal and oblique shockwaves, and supersonic nozzles behave like subsonic diffusers and vice versa. sharp corners produce less drag and heat than smoothly curving surfaces

Re:What about drag (2)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977153)

Actually, breaking up the surface is a well known technique for reducing drag. I know a company that makes a very finely etched plastic laminate for applying to the hulls of racing schooners specifically to reduce drag. It wasn't modeled on biomimetic material ( as far as I know) but it's the same idea.

Of course their current laminates wouldn't withstand dust. They're made for water.

Shark Skin (3, Interesting)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977393)

Shark Skin is not smooth, but it has low friction in a fluid, in one direction.
I recall seeing a promo video from a company that applied such a surface to an Americas Cup boat hull.
Possibly what you are thinking of.

Re:Shark Skin (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38978955)

I recall seeing a promo video from a company that applied such a surface to an Americas Cup boat hull.

I recall that video too; it starred Peter North doing the "laminating", right? Oh, wait, a promo video.....

Re:What about drag (1)

mercnet (691993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977567)

Surface roughness can be used to transition the boundary layer from a laminar to a turbulent flow. Early separation on an airfoil causes an increase in drag. You can trip the flow with surface roughness, suction/blowing, trip wire, etc to make it turbulent and repair the separation.

Now relating to the article I am guessing they have a turbulent boundary layer which is why sand particles are being sucked in and slammed against the blade. Having a laminar BL would prevent sand from entering it?

Re:What about drag (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977647)

I recall reading a similar thing about the surface of a yatch hull being made to resemble "rough" shark skin. The ineventor claimed that a surface with a bit of roughness has less drag than a smooth surface and that evolution had done a very good job of optimising a sharks surface to minimze its drag.

Re:What about drag (1)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978525)

rough surface increase drag, but it also energizes the airflow to make it less prone to separation at higher angles of attack

some aircraft have devices on the wings that "trip" the boundary layer of the airflow towards the trailing edge of the wing so that the flap angle can be increased further than would otherwise be possible without stalling

rough surfaces or boundary layer tripping devices (wires, vortex generator fins, etc) can permit huge lift/drag ratios, which are essential for large aircraft during landing

The Scorpion and the Frog (0)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38976891)

So there was this scorpion that wanted to cross a river...

So there was this 747 that wanted to cross an ocean...

Not to mention... (0)

owenferguson (521762) | more than 2 years ago | (#38976919)

...that they would just look fuckin' bad-ass!

Re:Not to mention... (0)

evil_aaronm (671521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977315)

In addition to that, we're moody, and jealously guard what's ours. Do not piss off scorpios; we also hold grudges - forever. But we're unbelievably good looking and make awesome sex partners, if we feel like it. Incompatible with Cancer, those fucking dip-wads...

so what about drag? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38976927)

What effect do these "surface irregularities" have on drag, and therefore on fuel use?

It would be great to cut down on dust damage, but not at the expense of making every flight more costly...

Re:so what about drag? (3, Informative)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977075)

My guess would be (disclaimer: I am not an aerodynamicist) that surface irregularities of a certain size proportional to the overall aerodynamic characteristic would not affect it - much unlike the golf ball. Those turbulent areas immediately aft those dimples form a static bubble of high or low pressure (depending on the vector and position of the dimple relative to the centre of mass) which cause the desired effect. In a Stealth aircraft those irregularities are designed to not affect the aerodynamic behaviour in any way: what they do, is to reduce the RADAR signature of the aircraft, hence their size is calculated for maximum RADAR dispersion. We're talking bumps, curves and ridges of less than 1/64" high. Barely enough to detect even with bare fingertips.

On the other hand, you can make a brick fly. Look at the Rockwell Constellation series space shuttle orbiters.

Re:so what about drag? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38978483)

I've done academic wind tunnel research specializing in boundary layer flows. What happens is that the skin friction losses that occur as fluids (gases and liquids) flow around a body reduce the total energy that the flow has to overcome the adverse pressure gradient on the aft side.

An intuitive physical analogy would be dropping a ball bearing on a half pipe. In ideal (energy conserving) physics modelling the ball bearing would not lose potential or kinetic energy and would reach the same height on the opposite side of the half pipe, but with losses the bearing will only make it part way. The same thing happens, to flow around blunt bodies and airfoils at high angles of attack, essentially the curvature is such that the flow 'sees' a steep wall to climb (adverse pressure gradient) which it does not have the energy to overcome, this is the onset of separation.

Boundary layer management uses vortex creating features that ideally reach just past the laminar boundary layer (relatively orderly tangential flow) into the higher energy freestream, creating mixing and turbulence so that the boundary layer does not separate. The height and location of such devices depend on Reynolds number (think of it as ratio of inertial to viscous forces), as higher Reynolds number flows have more momentum to recover from skin friction losses, separation becomes less of an issue. This is why airplanes are not golf-ball textured, they operate at Re > 10^7 most of the time, meaning inertial forces are much greater than viscous forces.

Next source of inspiration (0, Offtopic)

exploder (196936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977059)

UFO's have been using the "disk" design for decades, now engineers are looking at scorpions. Clearly, "black flap" technology is the logical next step.

APPLE !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977113)

Apple, apple !!

Apple, apple, appple !!

Apple, apple, appple, apple !!

APPLE !!

Oblig (2)

KuRa_Scvls (932317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977131)

I am Tired of these motherF**king SCORPIONS on this MotherFu**ing PLANE

Re:Oblig (3, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977387)

(stewardess) Just switch from Hard Rock to the Easy Listening channel.

Re:Oblig (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978171)

(stewardess) Just switch from Hard Rock to the Easy Listening channel.

80's hair metal is not hard rock.

Oh never mind, the system was probably designed by someone tone deaf enough to think that dubstep is music instead of modem sounds.

Forgot the most obvious lesson (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977233)

Planes need a poison-tipped tail to fend of pterodactyl attacks. Until they get one of those they are simply flying coffins.

Material Science (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977353)

I wish that the phrase "material science" had been around (or more discussed?) when I was younger. This kind of thing really is amazing. I'd also seen a NOVA program in which an anti-microbial surface was created with a diamond-shaped pattern of ridges based on other things in nature (someone has seen this and can give more detail).

If I were starting much younger, I'd love to study material science. Truly amazing -- in the case of the anti-microbial surface (vs the control) they were made of the exact same material, but the shapes dramatically hindered colony growth.

It used to be called metallurgy (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978117)

The book that interested me enough to work in materials science was "Metals in the Service of Man" by Street and Alexander which I think had it's first edition in 1954. There's updated editions to at least 1989.
It eventually was called materials science because a lot of metallurgists were working on ceramics and polymers. It's interesting stuff but just about the first sort of job against the wall when a recession comes, so I had to turn the skills I'd picked up simulating the behaviour of materials with computers into a job wrangling computers.

Re:It used to be called metallurgy (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978331)

Metallurgy still exists as name, it's just part of materials science. Many people studying materials science will specialise in a family of materials such as ceramics, metallurgy or polymers.

Re:Material Science (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978321)

This is not material science, this is aerodynamics and fluid dynamics. Material science is about the properties of the material itself: strength, flexibility, conductivity, creep, fatigue, etc, and about the processing of a material. This study is about the surface of the material; the underlying material doesn't matter much, they used metal probably simply because they are familiar with it and have the equipment to make the desired shapes out of it.

That doesn't make this study, or material science, any less interesting - but if you're interested in these surface experiments, materials science is not where you should look first.

Re:Material Science (2)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980479)

The surface irregularities mentioned are in microns. At that scale it's entirely possible that the research and application would involve material science to a great degree. The basic theoretical simulation work? Maybe not as much. The applied science, very much.

Re:Material Science (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980689)

The described experiment however was about the surface and the interaction with the air flow. How the surface irregularties were made, that was not the subject of study here. After they figure out what those dimples should look like, then the next step is indeed to talk to materials scientists on what material would be suitable and how it could be processed.

None of you twits know a damned thing, as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977371)

Read up on Reynolds Number and educate yourselves :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reynolds_number

Re:None of you twits know a damned thing, as usual (1)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978645)

if we build an airplane as small as a scorpion, we can use cellophane for the wing because thinner wings are very efficient at low reynolds numbers

we can call it the "spruce moose"... now hop in smithers

Re:None of you twits know a damned thing, as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38979569)

furthermore... the most practical way to put this knowledge into action is obviously to grow giant scorpion exoskeletons and strap engines to them. Or just breed giant scorpions on some continent and raid their graveyard.

Nature does it best! (0)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977493)

Nature usually does it best! Would that more of our scientists tried harder to get their cues from it, rather than trying to fight it or destroy it.

Big bumps (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38977513)

It seems like the features they made in the steel were far larger than those on the scorpion's outer surface. I wonder why they needed to scale it up so much.

Re:Big bumps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977659)

It seems like the features they made in the steel were far larger than those on the scorpion's outer surface. I wonder why they needed to scale it up so much.

Because of the speed of the aircraft.

Re:Big bumps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977899)

They needed to scale it up so much due to demands placed on the engineering program by Sir Mix-a-Lot. He has given his firm assurance that he likes big bumps, and he cannot lie.

Oh, he was actually expressing his admiration for sizable posteriors? My mistake, wouldn't be the first time I got the lyrics wrong. Please excuse me, I need to use the bathroom on the right.

Re:Big bumps (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978449)

My best guess: their equipment could not make it better than that.

This sounds a bit like a professor learned something interesting about how these scorpions are not affected by the sand storms, and out of curiousity tries to find out what causes it. They went for shopping in the local pet shops, got themselves a few scorpions, took samples of the armour, and went to work with that. Put it under a microscope, add UV light (both pretty standard equipment), then made a laser scan of the surface (not so standard equipment, but they likely have it for other purposes or asked another department in the university do do it for them), and then tried to recreate the surface as well as they could with their existing equipment for a sandblasting experiment.

Buying special equipment for a single experiment done out of simple curiousity is usually not worth it. You use what you have, make the best out of it, and now they have some positive, promising results that's the time to maybe find an industry partner to invest in the equipment that can make an exact replica and continue to do experiments.

Scale Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977533)

A scorpion in a sandstorm does not necessarily translate to aircraft speeds and atmospheric dust.

(And don't think aircraft designers haven't noticed the dimples on golf balls.)

This is semi-news (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978235)

This is semi-news.

Similar results, even if not for abrasion, were found decades ago but for aerodynamics in general.

Microstructures in the shape of fish scale do improve aerodynamics considerbly. That it also helps abrasion is new.

Re:This is semi-news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38978507)

The sting of your tone clawed through my mind and poisoned the story for me.

Re:This is semi-news (1)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978663)

the term "bug smasher" has been in aircraft circles for a long time. example is the Hawker Siddeley HS 748

How often does it molt? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38978471)

How often does the scorpion molt or otherwise regenerate its exoskeleton? It's a bit tricky to do that with an aircraft.

Autoregeneration? (2)

Claudix (2464776) | more than 2 years ago | (#38978577)

Perhaps I'm wrong but scorpions, as living beings, are supposed to be able to fix possible carapace erosion, aren't they? I mean that an aircraft with an emulated scorpion surface would also be damaged in the long run. What would be really awesome is to create some sort of material with autoregenerating properties!

Sand fish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38979109)

A similar effect was discovered years ago for Scincus scincus [wikipedia.org] , or 'sand fish', a small reptile which can 'swim' under the surface of desert sand. Its skin (although shiny) is at a microscopic level very rough, so its basically similar to the shark skin effect, which was already mentioned here, too.

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